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E00813: Prudentius, in his Latin Crowns of the Martyrs (Peristephanon), written c. 405 in Calahorra (northern Spain), in a poem on the *Eighteen Martyrs of Saragossa (north-eastern Spain, S00485), tells of the upbringing of *Vincent (deacon and martyr of Saragossa and Valencia, E00290) in Saragossa (north-eastern Spain). Even though his tomb is at Sagunto (near Valencia in eastern Spain), some of his blood is kept in Saragossa and this city too treats him as its own saint.

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posted on 27.10.2015, 00:00 by mszada
Liber Peristephanon, Poem IV.77-108

Prudentius praises the city of Saragossa and its Eighteen Martyrs, and goes on to praise Vincent, who was not martyred in Saragossa, but spent his early years there:

Inde, Vincenti, tua palma nata est,
clerus hic tantum peperit triumfum,
hic sacerdotum domus infulata
80 Valeriorum.

Saeuus antiquis quotiens procellis
turbo uexatum tremefecit orbem,
tristior templum rabies in istud
intulit iras.

85 Nec furor quisquam sine laude nostrum
cessit aut clari uacuus cruoris,
martyrum semper numerus sub omni
grandine creuit.

Nonne, Vincenti, peregri necandus
90 martyr his terris tenui notasti
sanguinis rore speciem futuri
morte propinqua?

Hoc colunt ciues, uelut ipsa membra
caespes includat suus et paterno
95 servet amplectens tumulo beati
martyris ossa.

Noster est, quamuis procul hinc in urbe
passus ignota dederit sepulcri
gloriam uictor prope litus altae
100 forte Sagynti.

Noster et nostra puer in palestra
arte uirtutis fideique oliuo
unctus horrendum didicit domare
uiribus hostem.

105 Nouerat templo celebres in isto
octies partas deciesque palmas,
laureis doctus patriis eadem
laude cucurrit.


'It was here, Vincent, your victory began, here the clergy won their great triumph, and here the mitred (infulatus) family of the priestly Valerii. Whenever in the tempests of ancient times the cruel storm troubled and shook the world, a fiercer fury hurled its wrath on this church, and its raging never passed without bringing honour to our people and without the shedding of famous blood; the number of martyrs ever grew larger under every storm. Did you not, Vincent, due to die a martyr abroad, with a light shower of blood mark on these lands the shape of what was to come, when your death was at hand? This your fellow-citizens reverence, just as if its native ground covered the very body, keeping the blessed martyr's bones in its embrace in his family tomb. Ours he is, though as it befell it was in a strange city far from here that he suffered and in victory gave it the honour of having his burial-place, near the shore of lofty Saguntus. Ours he is; it was in our training school that as a boy he was instructed in the art of goodness and anointed with the oil of faith, and learned to subdue the dire enemy with his strength. He had learned that in this church eighteen famous victories were won, and taught by his native city's laurels he ran his race with the same honour.'

Text: Cunnigham 1966: 288-289. Translation: Thomson 1953, 160-163, lightly adapted.

History

Evidence ID

E00813

Saint Name

Vincent, deacon and martyr of Saragossa and Valencia, ob. c. 305 : S00290 Eighteen martyrs of Saragossa (Spain), ob. before 304 : S00485

Saint Name in Source

Vincentius

Type of Evidence

Literary - Poems Literary - Hagiographical - Accounts of martyrdom

Language

Latin

Evidence not before

395

Evidence not after

405

Activity not before

305

Activity not after

410

Place of Evidence - Region

Iberian Peninsula

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Calahorra

Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)

Calahorra Osset Osset Osen (castrum) Osser castrum

Major author/Major anonymous work

Prudentius

Cult activities - Places

Burial site of a saint - tomb/grave

Cult Activities - Relics

Bodily relic - blood Bodily relic - entire body

Source

Aurelius Prudentius Clemens (348–after 405) was a Christian aristocrat from Calahorra in the Spanish province of Tarraconensis. He was a high official in the imperial bureaucracy in Rome, but withdrew from public life, returned to Calahorra, and dedicated himself to the service and celebration of God. Most of what we know about his biography comes from the preface to the ensemble of his works, which can be reliably dated to 404 (Cunningham 1966, 1-2), and other autobiographical remarks scattered throughout his works (for a detailed discussion, see Palmer 1989, 6-31). He composed several poetical works, amongst them the Peristephanon (literally, On the Crowns [of the Martyrs]), a collection of fourteen poems of different length describing martyrdoms of saints. We do not know exactly at which point in his literary career Prudentius wrote the preface (possibly at the very end, just before publication); for attempts at a precise dating of the Peristephanon, see Fux 2013, 9, n. 1. The poems in the Peristephanon, written in elegant classical metres, deal mainly with martyrs from Spain, but some of them are dedicated to saints of Rome, Africa and the East. The poems were widely read in the late antique and medieval West, and had a considerable influence on the diffusion of cult of the saints included. In later periods they were sometimes used as hymns in liturgical celebrations and had an impact on the development of the Spanish hymnody. Some indications in the poems suggest that they were written to commemorate the saints on their feast days, but Prudentius probably did not compose them for the liturgy of his time. Rather, they probably provided 'devotional reading matter for a cultured audience outside a church context' (Palmer 1989, 3; see also Chapter 3 in her book).

Discussion

On the hymn see E00799. The hymn is in praise of the Eighteen Martyrs who suffered in Saragossa, but *Vincent, the most prominent Spanish saint seems to be too important to be omitted from the account, even though he did not die and was not buried in the city. Prudentius points at two circumstances which linked Vincent with Saragossa: his education and service as a deacon, during which he was inspired by the example of the Eighteen Martyrs to seek martyrdom, as well as his blood which was preserved in Saragossa. Later tradition explains that it was blood from his nostrils (see E00831). The link between the city and the martyr was so close that Prudentius refers to Vincent several times as Saragossa'a own saint. The reference to the family of Valerii is an allusion to Vincent's teacher and superior, bishop Valerius of Saragossa. The tomb of Vincent was located at Valencia, to which Prudentius refers in his mention of the nearby Sagunto.

Bibliography

Editions of the Peristephanon: Cunningham, M.P., Prudentii Carmina (Corpus Christianorum Series Latina 126; Turnhout: Brepols, 1966), 251-389. Bergman, J., Prudentius, Carmina (Corpus Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum Latinorum 61; Vienna, 1926), 291-431. Translations of the Peristephanon: Eagan, C., Prudentius, Poems (Fathers of the Church 43; Washington D.C.: Catholic University Press, 1962), 95-280. English translation. Thomson, H.J., Prudentius, vol. 2 (Loeb Classical Library; London Cambridge, Mass: W. Heinemann; Harvard University Press, 1953), 98-345. Edition and English translation. Further reading: Fux, P.-Y., Prudence et les martyrs: hymnes et tragédie. Peristephanon 1. 3-4. 6-8. 10. Commentaire, (Fribourg: Academic Press, 2013). Malamud, M.A., A Poetics of Transformation: Prudentius and Classical Mythology (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1989). Palmer, A.-M., Prudentius on the Martyrs (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1989). Roberts, M., Poetry and the Cult of the Martyrs: The "Liber Peristephanon" of Prudentius (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1993).

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